Time: 114 Minutes
AWARDS: Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Score.
I don't know why I'm so drawn to this movie. I'm not generally a big fan of horror movies and yet every time POLTERGEIST comes on television, I'm compelled to watch it even though parts of it scare the dickens out of me. I now know where M. Night Shyamalan got his inspiration for the freaky kitchen cabinet stuff. On the surface, POLTERGEIST is merely a suped-up ghost story, but underneath, it taps into our notions of the afterlife, the existence of ghosts and the fear that toys can kill. We all had that one toy we just had to cover up or the closet door that just had to be closed or we weren't able to sleep. Spielberg is a master at working his way under your skin, and even though he was just the producer, his touch is all over this picture. The movie is a powder keg of emotions, taking you on a roller coaster ride you won't soon forget. Personally, the first instance of paranormal phenomena would have had me out the door, but if they had left right away we wouldn't have a movie.
The plot starts innocently enough, introducing the audience to the Freeling family. The parents Steve and Diane, played by Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams, are hard-working people who have finally realized their dream of a home for their children. Dana (Dunne), Robbie (Robins) and Carol Anne (O'Rourke) are your typical suburban kids who fight constantly, but are generally good-natured. Steve works for the housing office selling other homes in their development. They've lived in their home for over 5 years without a problem. Until one night they wake up to find Carol Anne talking to the television set, which is showing nothing but snow. They think she's just sleepwalking, which is something Diane did as a child. It soon becomes clear, however, that there's something strange going on in the house. They try to keep an open mind, thinking that the occurences are harmless and fun. Unfortunately for them, the ghosts living in the house have a bigger agenda than just moving chairs across the kitchen floor.